So, You Want to Start a Build Guild?
Great! They're fun! Think of all the high-fives you'll be getting from local web people who are having a good time because of you.
But before we chat about you possibly starting a chapter, you should read this page. It's not short, but hopefully it's not boring either. It's important that you understand where we're coming from, what we stand for, and what it takes to run a Build Guild.
How We Got Started
There have always been a number of meet-ups and gatherings happening around us. We'd go to them; some were great, some were less-than-great, but then afterwards you'd always go to a nearby bar and chat with other attendees, meeting others that did what you do.
While presentations are good, but we found that we were really going just to meet other people. At most of the events, that part didn't start until nine or ten, and we always had a train to catch.
Another thing we found is that groups seem to assemble in niche-focuses. There are WordPress meet-ups, mini-Drupal-cons everywhere, Python- and PHP-groups, Ruby gatherings, etc. Why should we have to be interested in Ruby to meet people that happened to code Ruby?
So we did what made sense to us: we started Build Guild. Think of it as the part that comes after a presentation, except that's all you're doing.
What We Stand For
We're a fun, friendly gathering for web people of all sorts — developers, designers, producers, friends of people whose nephew makes websites on weekends. We'll probably be a bit geeky, we want you to be too.
All are welcome to Build Guild. Some attendees bring their significant others from time to time, and we've even seen a couple kids (if your venue allows it). We just want people that want to be there.
There are no talks, no presentations, and no topics forced upon people to discuss. People show up, they grab a drinks if they want one, find a hand to shake are start chatting.
Build Guild is a low-to-no-pressure environment.
People do network with one another at Build Guilds, but it's not your typical networking event. It's low-key, laid-back, and much more focused on sharing stories over a beer than a business-card free-for-all. We've had the occasional pushy recruiter show up here and there, but ten minutes and a beer later, they're laid back just like everyone else.
Build Guild provides the least amount of structure needed to get people regularly chatting with one another face-to-face.
We're picky about Build Guild chapter leaders.
We've found that it takes a certain type of person to run a Build Guild: an interest in web stuff, the drive to keep things going, and just the right type of humor.
There's no exact checklist of who is and isn't "qualified" (for lack of a better term) to run a Build Guild; we've found that our gut instincts seems to be pretty good at pointing the way. We want someone who loves making web stuff, has the drive to maintain a Build Guild, and is funny in the right kind of way.
The process goes a bit like this:
- you read this page & decide you like what you saw
- you contact us to say you're interested
- we chat on the phone for 30ish minutes
- we ask and answer questions
- we sleep on it for a bit
- a couple of days later, we get in touch and how we feel
- if we're both in, away we go
Still interested? Great!
You're about half-way there.
Yes, we have rules. These are the only rules we have for people that run a Build Guild, we leave the rest up to the chapter leaders.
We have our rules for two reasons.
- We want every Build Guild to give the same feeling when someone walks through the door: fun, friendly, welcoming, a place I want to be at. If you hit up the Salem Build Guild and then the next month visit the San Diego Build Guild, it should feel like the same event (with a local flair).
- The rules make it easier for chapter leaders to run the Build Guilds. These rules take the guess work out of important things, leaving them to decide the fun other details.
We don't micromanage chapters, part of that gut instinct is finding people people that understand the importance of our rules and will follow them on their own. People are happy with the results, which makes us happy.
So without further ado, here are the rules:
No Presentations; Ever, Ever, Ever
Build Guilds don't have presentations. If people huddle around a laptop and checkout something that someone made: awesome, but formal "everyone watch this slideshow" stuff is not allowed.
Always at a Bar
The stereotypes are true, web people can be socially awkward. We've found that a beer or two generally fixes that. We don't pressure anyone to drink, but Build Guild is always be held at a place that (legally) serves alcohol.
Always on the Same Day
As in, "second Tuesday of each month." Each Build Guild can pick any day they'd like, but we've found Tuesdays and Wednesdays work best. Most holidays are on Mondays, bars get crowded Thursdays and Fridays, and no one's coming out to network on the weekend. Venues are also more likely to give you breaks because you're bringing in a bunch of folks to drink on a normally off night.
Build Guilds have the advantage of not having to schedule speakers, so a regular event is easy. This also helps attendees always know when Build Guild is, and other local events that do have scheduling challenges will know that your night is "Build Guild night."
Always at the Same Place
Again, we want to keep it simple for people. Build Guild always happens at the same venue at the same time every month.
Don't worry, you're not locked into a place forever. There are times when venues are no longer working out. In those cases, Build Guilds switch venues, but we try to keep it to a minimum.
All are Welcome
When you go to a Build Guild, you're not a Ruby person, a Drupal person, an EE person, a jQuery person, you're just a person that's interested in hanging out. We welcome anyone that comes to an event.
There have been times where other random folks at the bar will stumble into our area — nothing is different. We explain to them who we are, introduce them to folks if they're interested, and encourage them to chat.
Usually they'll leave, but you never know. And that's OK.
A Friend to All
Build Guilds connect with and supports other local web meet-ups and gatherings. When they tweet about their events, we retweet them. When they're looking for speakers, we ask our Twitter followers if anyone knows anyone.
Some people see meet-ups as a competitive thing for whose can be the most successful. We just want to hang out and have a beer. We help out others in hopes that they'll return the favor.
Always Take the High Road
Sometimes people get mad, snarky, cynical, or just downright rude. That's not us. We're kind, we only say nice things, and we never retaliate. Build Guilds are above such behavior.
Chapter leaders can have opinions on things — Mac or PC, iOS or Android, Drupal or ExpressionEngine, Ruby or Python, Democrat or Republican — but it's important that all of that is left to personal accounts. Each Build Guild chapter gets a Twitter account, and that is to be only used for good.
Sponsorship & Limits
This is the most serious one. We love when local companies want to sponsor one of our events, but there are limitations to what we'll do for them in return.
What does a sponsor get in return for sponsoring an event? We'll tweet about them to thank them, we'll stick their logo up on the chapter page for the month, and we'll tell people at the event about the sponsor (and maybe something like "and they're hiring, go talk to that guy if you're interested").
Things we'll never do:
- Allow someone from a sponsoring company to "take the floor" of an event to speak, ever
- Change the name of Build Guild to benefit a sponsor, we're "Build Guild," we're never "So-and-so presents Build Guild"
It doesn't matter how much money someone offers, we're not interested. All money and items donated for an event go back to the people and the event.
No one in the Build Guild makes money.
It's a labor of love and interest.
Humor, Fun & No Pressure
Build Guild, above all, should be fun. Running one takes maybe a couple hours per month (if that). There are no franchise fees, no membership dues, and no pressure to reach quotas. We don't care if it's just you and a friend that show up, we just want you to have fun.
You'll may talk about web stuff at a Build Guild, but there's also a good chance that you won't. We've seen conversation range from web questions to bizarre things to, well, anything. It doesn't matter what people talk about, as long as they're having a good time.
And remember that people will be nervous the first time they go to a Build Guild, chapter leaders are expected to be there ready to high-five and start conversation.
We Connect People
At the end of the day, Build Guild connects people. After people go to a couple, it becomes more of a gathering of friends than a networking event. We help companies find talent, and help talented folks find jobs and friends.
The best part about Build Guild is knowing that you'll help a lot of people over time, and that you know all of the people that you're helping.
Hey, You Made It!
That wasn't too bad, was it? Hopefully you liked what you saw.
It's worth mentioning that we like for each Build Guild to have two people co-leading things. This is partly to make it easier to manage, and partly to maintain the "same time, same place each month" thing. Life happens, and having two people running things helps cut back cancellations.
Now are you still interested? Can you think of someone that might be a good person to co-lead with you? Drop us a line at let's chat.